He was talking about the art of "wooing." In the Renaissance/Victorian age, a man had to "woo" and court the woman before asking her father for her hand in marriage. So, when (some) men met the girls they intended to marry, they would sweet-talk them until they decided if they wanted to marry or not. When they got married...well, those promises went out the door. Be mindful that this only happened in a few instances, and not all. So, don't hate the Renaissance/Victorian era over this bit of societal fact, because this doesn't even apply to the majority of the populous back then.